I had the pleasure of working with the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad for the inaugural runs of the 2013 Polar Express this past weekend. I was, as one visitor named me, a St. Elf! Dressed in Santa boots and elfish attire, I was the "Meet & Greet" girl for the 2,000 visitors who came to ride The Polar Express - from Thursday to Sunday.
It was an enjoyable four days. I began each day looking at license plates in all the parking lots surrounding the Railroad Depot. There was West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, even North Carolina and Vermont.
Then, at my station, it was my job to inform the visitors as to how to check in with their new E-tickets. I won't say too much about this new system here, since it's still in testing mode, but it sure was exciting to watch those E-tickets being scanned by iPhones and ID numbers texted into the new online system! All eight Polar Express departures - around 250 per train - were boarded in record time!
As I stood at my post awaiting the flow of visitors for the 7:15 p.m. departures, I noticed how families really enjoyed the animated lighting around the Town Square. Children of all ages would run up to and around them; parents took photos of their children with them; some parents asked me to take photos of the family either in front or behind them. These lights were a hit with everyone in the family.
In walking around and chatting with folks, I found that some were residents of the town and surrounding county. They come to the Town Square every year, just to walk around to enjoy the lights and watch the train either depart or return from the North Pole.
Having worked as a marketing consultant with the railroad through these past three years of Polar Express, I knew that this most colorful display of animated delight was the brainchild of Harold Elbon and Ed Griesel. These two, with the help of other volunteers, have grown this project each year and they should be proud of their accomplishment. I would like to personally say, "Thank you!" for a job well done!